Planned Giving Donor and Alum Gives Back to the University that Helped Shape his Career
Yoram Benbarak B.S. ’71, M.S.’73 was an undergraduate student when computer technology was going through a momentous revolution that helped catapult Israel into its famed status as Startup Nation and a leader in innovation. The Technion was on the front lines. Distinguished Technion Professors Jacob Ziv and Abraham Lempel co-created the algorithm that serves as the basis for essential file compression currently used in computers and smartphones to send PDFs, videos, and music over the Internet. “That was a time of great change,” said Yoram, who studied under Prof. Ziv and was a student in both the first semiconductor class ever taught at the Technion and the first class ever in computer programming.
Yoram earned both degrees in Technion’s most demanding faculty, Electrical Engineering. “It was tough, but tough is good. Tough makes winners,” he said. “The Technion gave me a top-notch education, an excellent profession, and tools to think and analyze well beyond the tuition I was charged. This education has contributed immensely to my success.”
Now he is returning the favor.
Yoram is taking advantage of the IRS’s qualified charitable contributions rules, and starting in 2022 will also benefit from the required minimum distribution rules that allow him to donate annually directly from his taxable IRA to the American Technion Society (ATS) without incurring taxable income. “I like knowing I can help the Technion now.”
In addition, Yoram recently decided to leave a significant portion of his IRA to the ATS as part of his estate plan, knowing that each dollar will go tax-free to the ATS. “I hope my legacy will contribute to the Technion’s continued ability to excel.”
Concerned about bridging Israel’s socio-economic gap, Yoram hopes the Technion might use his funds as stipends for students with less means. “I’ve always wanted to give other students the same opportunities that I had.” But he said he is happy to see his funding directed to wherever it is needed most.
“My gifts are my way of giving back to the institution that treated me so well.”
Yoram was born in Israel in 1950 to Holocaust survivors. “We had very little,” he said. “I remember periods when there was hardly food in the home.” His father couldn’t attend high school due to World War II and became a mechanic for agricultural equipment. His mother picked apples until she gained the skills for office work. Still, their earnings were just above the threshold to qualify for a scholarship, so they scraped and saved to pay Yoram’s Technion tuition. In his senior year, Yoram paid his own way with proceeds from a sandwich business he started with his roommate.
Yoram entered the Technion at age 17 through Atuda or Academic Reserves, a program of the Israel Defense Forces that enables Israeli students with good grades to study before serving in the military. In return, Atuda candidates commit to serving five years instead of three in a position that fits the knowledge they gained during their studies. Yoram carried out his military service in civilian clothing, working at Rafael Armament Authority. In 1978, he and his then wife, who was a graphic artist, took a couple of backpacks and headed to Los Angeles.
He began working in the field of electronic components distribution and teamed up with his wife in 1983 to launch The Electronics Source Book, a directory for purchasing agents nationwide of where to buy electronic components. It was a great success, and the couple sold it 10 years later — the first in a handful of businesses that he would start, co-found, or lead. “Some were more successful and some less,” he said candidly. “They weren’t all home runs.”
In addition to his businesses, Yoram was an angel investor, having invested in about 40 California-based tech startups through the years. One of those companies was PatentRatings LLC., which assessed the strength of public companies based on the number and value of their patents. In parallel, he and a partner launched Rosebay Capital Management LLC, a small hedge fund management company that contracted with PatentRatings, employing their patent data to invest in public high-tech companies. Rosebay was active from 2003 until 2021.
Somewhere along the way, he learned Spanish and got a pilot’s license. He flew small airplanes for 10 years but owned his own plane for only 10 days — just long enough to comprehend the severity of California’s liability laws.
Just before the pandemic struck in 2019, he and his fiancee moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. He spends his time visiting with his children Maya and Nadav and their four grandchildren (a fifth is due in May 2022). Now closer to ATS activities, he is exploring ways to reconnect to his alma mater. “I want to be involved and to give back,” he said. “Higher education is costly. And I’ve always thought that if I’m successful and can attribute my success in part to the Technion, I will give back when I’m able to.”
By joining ATS’s Genesis Circle Society, you can leave a lasting legacy by supporting students, faculty and cutting-edge research that secures the future of Israel and leaves a lasting legacy of your generosity. Explore our planned giving opportunities and find a charitable plan that works for you. For more information, contact Judy Sager, Executive Director of Planned Giving at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781.531.0441.
Updated March 25, 2022
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